Royals’ Decision To Wed Online Sets Internet Records

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain's startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

The wedding of William and Kate made online connections glow with activity but proved too hot for the BBC

Viewers who tuned into the BBC Website to watch Katherine Middleton And Prince William getting hitched found a few extra hitches as the broadcast stuttered and failed.

Just as the ceremony started at around 11:13am, the BBC’s live bloggers, Lucy Wilkins and Victoria King, had to break off from their text coverage of the wedding to apologise to viewers for the not-so-streaming video.

Veil Drawn Over Proceedings

As Kate removed her veil at the altar, a cloak of darkness descended for some viewers accompanied by an unromantic “Error 500 – Internal Error” message, while for others the pictures began to stutter.

“The live page is proving hugely popular and the demand is giving us a few headaches with our video feed,” typed the bloggers (see enhanced picture below).

As expected, the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton has broken Internet records. The BBC traffic was eight times higher than normal and O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile also peaked to near breaking point, according to Keynote Systems.

Sky News did not attract the same degree of traffic, about four times normal, but ITV demand increased by seven fold.

The dedicated YouTube Royal Wedding channel, which took a separate feed supplied by the BBC, has yet to release figures but it anticipated an audience of 400 million. The stream seems to have held up, according to eWEEK Europe’s experience.

The Associated Press, UK Press Association and CBS all took their feed from Livestream which hit a record concurrent live stream rate of 300,000. This will equate to around two million unique viewers, the company said,  but Associated Press alone reported “millions” of viewers.

In the dead of night in the US, Akamai Technologies said page views hit 5.4 million per minute. Despite the early hour, this rates as the sixth-largest viewing rate ever for the company.

Yahoo reported that its traffic broke the record held by Michael Jackson’s funeral. Demand created over six million streams – 21 percent higher than the funeral.

Social Networks Tweeting Loud

Social networking sites went wild. Facebook reported that 6.8 million people commented on the wedding during the day. Footballer David Beckham’s arrival caused a surge of 9,000 status updates within 20 minutes. His wife Victoria also managed to generate a further 5,000 comments.

On Twitter, the top 10 trending topics were all related to the marriage with a peak of activity when the stunning Sarah Burton dress was revealed. Prince Charles’ official residence Clarence House also added its own tweeted commentary to the day but reports that officials would block tweets from inside the abbey were scotched by Ofcom when it commented that such actions are illegal.

The soundtrack of the Westminster Abbey service was rushed out by iTunes and has immediately entered the Top 10 Albums list at number three. Especially gratifying for little known composer Paul Mealor, his Ubi Caritas is charting in the Top 50 singles – currently hovering just under 30th place, several places above the specially-commissioned This Is The Day The Lord Hath Made by the popular composer John Rutter.

The National Grid measures viewing figures in terms of the megawatt (MW) surge that follows major TV events. Shortly after the couple returned to Buckingham Palace, the National Grid recorded a surge of 2,400MW as a million kettles were switched on for a refreshing cuppa.

In terms of historical records, this was 33 percent higher than the Charles and Diana wedding but 400 megawatts short of the surge after the England-West Germany semi-final penalty shoot out in 1990.

  • In 1953, the BBC set a precedent for missing key royal events during world-first broadcasts. As it staged its, then, biggest-ever, live broadcast for the Queen’s coronation, the director cut away from the action as the crown was placed on Princess Elizabeth’s head.